back to article The Pew 'gig economy' study is here, and it's grim

Around 56 per cent of "gig economy" workers say the income they get from those services is essential to making ends meet. This according to a study from Pew Research, which interviewed 4,579 workers from various app-based services including dial-a-ride, cleaning and laundry, and food and grocery delivery apps. Pew estimates …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Not Surprised

    The gig economy is just another term for multiple part-time jobs strung together to make ends meet.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Not Surprised

      No, it's worse than that, with very real, very disturbing long-term implications.

      The "gig economy" actively/aggressively relies on a desperate underclass, and --much worse-- explicitly creates a structure to guarantee that those people remain trapped in that / as that underclass.

      The "useful idiots" [Lenin] here are those NOT desperate who are just after some extra cash from their idle time. A lot of these, you'll notice after a while, are themselves cross-subsidised from other lifestyle/luck factors. As such, a fair wage (relative to living standards) is not particularly important to them -- only an absolute non-zero value. So they'll happily bid lower just to get whatever cash. The result is that the non-desperate drive down the price for the desperate. Making the desperate two-time losers in this situation.

      The "gig economy" traps the poor in poverty.

  2. Peter Prof Fox

    Pictures please

    This is one of the few cases where pretty charts would be really useful. So many stats in one Reg article!

  3. Jim84

    market failure

    The companies behind the apps like Uber, Lyft, and the cleaning apps like to portray themselves as online marketplaces where consumers and providers can meet.

    The problem with this story is that they are not marketplaces, they are natural monopolies or duopolies. The consumers can only easily search and compare one or two apps at present. Forcing the providers (drivers) to deal with one buyer of their labour, who then sells it on at a profit. The consumers think they are getting a good deal, because Uber/Lyft etc are cheaper than taxis, but this is only because the app owners are using their market power to screw the providers.

    Although the previous situation where taxi companies somewhat screwed the consumers was not satisifactory either.

    Ironically, although technology is often used to get rid of a middle man matching buyers and sellers, in this case it seems to be failing.

    Rather than cities like Paris and New York banning Uber, perhaps they should just require that all jobs entered into apps go into a central city run database/clearing house, which any provider can bid on. Taxi drivers will still be worse off, as there will be fewer barriers to entry in their profession, but over time that should encourage them to move to more skilled work. In the mean time Uber wouldn't be able to get rich by screwing them. If someone has the power to collect money from people, that is just a tax, but not a tax that is being invested in public services, just in silicon valley VC yachts and lifestyles. This is almost the technological equivalent of mobsters collecting protection money.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: market failure

      I still occasionally use taxis. I also have the cell phone numbers of several cabbies so I can call them directly when needed. Uber/Lyft make it easier to be a driver for most and shift the maintenance costs to the driver. Cabbies actually rent the taxi from the company who is responsible for maintenance.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: market failure

      Rather than cities like Paris and New York banning Uber, perhaps they should just require that all jobs entered into apps go into a central city run database/clearing house

      They should go where they belong - on a payroll.

      This is employment, not gig as the employer determines everything. So the employer for starters has to:

      1. Pay the minimum salary

      2. Pay all other taxes and national insurance

      3. Comply with health and safety requirements related to driving. These are not just "union spoilsport" rules - they are there to keep people alive on the road.

      The moment Uber and other other gig companies have to do all that they stop being "competitively priced". In fact they end up costing the same as "legacy" businesses providing the same service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: market failure

        A friend of mine was hooking up with this guy who was part timing as an Uber driver when he couldn't get IT support gigs. Her stories about him make me never want to take an Uber again:

        * He rarely drives in this country. In fact, he only drives when he is doing an Uber stint.

        * He uses a hire care, updating the details on uber each time he changes it, so probably not correctly insured.

        * Because he hires the car, he has daily costs, and so maximises the revenue he can earn by working non stop, working midday Friday to late Sunday and just taking naps in the car between bookings.

        * Didn't like driving, particularly in the UK, and didn't know how to get to places.

        Definitely put me off Uber, thankfully we finally have night tube!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > On the plus side, the study found that 55 per cent of gig workers are women, making it perhaps the only part of the tech industry not dominated by men.

    Part of the tech industry? More like raw materials....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panama papers

    When billionaire owners pay no tax on their offshore cash hoardes, and their workers work long hours for less than a living wage whilst paying taxes, something is very fucked with this system.

    Maybe start burning a few of these cunts would help.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Panama papers

      if youre on the breadline , youre not paying much tax are you? the no tax threshld is about 12k isnt it?

      i do think billionaires should be banned though. It takes a thousand millionaires to make one billionaire!

      1. Tom_

        Re: Panama papers

        You will be as an Uber driver, what with duty on fuel and VAT on maintenance and repair of your vehicle.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Never fails to surprise me

    Do something similar to what's done before but stick a website or an app in there and you can get away with anything.

    If Uber worked by calling a phone line they'd have been shut down ages ago.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Never fails to surprise me

      They succeed because they process in a "friendly" destination.

      Nobody will call an international number to hail a taxi. At the same time nobody cares about doing what is effectively an international order for it.

      In any case, the best (and probably only) way to deal with these is to force ALL delivery vehicles and ALL hire cars to carry a tachometer ASAP. The tech is available, it can be installed today. A GPS synced one - tomorrow. That will be the only way to deal with Yodel and DPD trucks driving at 50mph in 20mph zones and flashing lights at you if you stay at the speed limit.

      The moment all of these have to comply with the "time behind the wheel" safety regs the whole business will suddenly stop being as appealing as it is today.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Never fails to surprise me

        One access number per country going to one single call centre is the stuff of every after-sales helpline everywhere.

        But that's beside the point. The point is safety regs aren't being enforced because Government doesn't like to interfere in stuff it doesn't understand and you can see it doesn't understand anything about the Internet in almost every committee or debate about this and by extension they don't understand anything which uses obviously uses the Internet, even though behind the scenes practically everything does.

        They can't see startups like this are just straight breaking the law and they can't see this is leading to the general impoverishment of the population. They think they look better if they say they're dynamic and disruptive and market forces.

        Any improvement with anything which involves apps, the Internet, people's data, or IoT will have to be framed as a tax or cost argument, which they do understand.

  7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    er , whats the story here , temporary workers use technology?

    dosent sound like an earth shattering headline to me.

    I used the "alarm clock" app on my phone this morning , do you want me to write an article on it? (i also used a real alarm clock , which is awesome cos its got a frickin laser on it)

    also "gig workers" are not tech workers just because they "use apps" . They use em , they didnt write the fucking things! By that logic the Total Moron emptying his pockets into the bandit machine in the pub is a mechanical engineer.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      >also "gig workers" are not tech workers just because they "use apps" . They use em , they didnt

      > write the fucking things! By that logic the Total Moron emptying his pockets into the bandit

      > machine in the pub is a mechanical engineer.

      Well put.

      It's a bit brain-scrambling reading stuff about poor bastards desperately scrabbling for cash via an enforced mechanism that's now ubiquitous and trivial ("my phone"), which describes them as part of "the tech economy".

      No, they're the pawns in a tech-enabled change to the previous equilibrium of humans and mechanisms/processes. And typically the losers therein.

  8. wwwhatsup

    Platform Cooperativism Conference video

    Last week there was a 3 day conference in NYC on exactly this topic. Two days of plenary video are available at https://livestream.com/internetsociety/platformcoop2016

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "of the tech industry not dominated by men."

    What tech?

    This is a (very) temporary work agency with a different delivery system.

    And non existent workers rights.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is the "gig economy" part of the tech industry?

    Because you use an app to call a maid or someone to drive you from point A to point B, doesn't mean that person is a tech worker. They're still a maid or a cab driver.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Uber

    Because as MinTruth reminds you constantly.

    "Slavery is freedom."

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